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Munyon v. Henson

February 2, 2010

KELLY MUNYON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GARY HENSON, SGT., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David G. Bernthal U.S. Magistrate Judge

ORDER

In August 2008, Plaintiff Kelly Munyon filed a Complaint (#1) against Defendant Gary Henson, alleging violations of her constitutional rights. Federal jurisdiction is based on federal question pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The parties have consented to the exercise of jurisdiction by a United States Magistrate Judge.

In September 2009, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (#12). In December 2009, Plaintiff filed a Response to Motion for Summary Judgment (#16). After reviewing the parties' pleadings and memoranda and the evidence, this Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (#12).

I. Standard

A court will grant summary judgment "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must decide, based on admissible evidence, whether any material factual dispute exists that requires a trial. Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920 (7th Cir. 1994). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of showing that no such issue of material fact exists. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.

The Court must draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). However, the nonmoving party may not rest upon mere allegations in the pleadings or upon conclusory statements in affidavits; rather, he must go beyond the pleadings and support his contentions with proper documentary evidence. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23. "Rule 56 demands something more specific than the bald assertion of the general truth of a particular matter, rather it requires affidavits that cite specific concrete facts establishing the existence of the truth of the matter asserted." Hadley v. County of Du Page, 715 F.2d 1238, 1243 (7th Cir. 1983). The Court will not rely upon statements that are conclusory, but will, where applicable, rely upon the more reliable evidence in the record. See Market v. Ill. Bell Tele. Co., No. 01 C 3841, 2003 WL 22697284, *6 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 13, 2003) (unreported). A scintilla of evidence in support of the non-movant's position is not sufficient to oppose successfully a summary judgment motion; "there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-movant]." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). The plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment against a party who fails to establish the existence of any element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. "In such a situation there can be 'no genuine issue as to any material fact,' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Id.

II. Background

As an initial matter, Plaintiff's response to Defendant's motion for summary judgment fails to comply with Local Rules for the Central District of Illinois because Plaintiff did not respond to Defendant's Statement of Material Facts. See CDIL-LR 7.1(2)(b)(1-4).

As the Local Rules state, the consequences for failing to comply are discussed thoroughly in Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corporation, 24 F.3d 918 (7th Cir. 1994). See CDIL-LR 7.1(C). When the nonmoving party does not respond to the moving party's statement of facts, the nonmoving party concedes the moving party's version of the facts. Waldridge, 24 F.3d at 922. Here, although Plaintiff has presented her own Statement of Material Facts, she failed to respond to Defendant's material facts. As a result, the Court will treat Defendant's material facts as undisputed, unless Plaintiff's facts clearly contradict them.

Nevertheless, Plaintiff's failure to dispute Defendant's version of the facts does not automatically result in summary judgment for Defendant. See LaSalle Bank Lake View v. Seguban, 54 F.3d 387, 392 (7th Cir. 1995) (a party's failure to submit a response to a motion for summary judgment does not automatically result in summary judgment for the moving party). It remains the moving party's burden to demonstrate that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that he is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. Doe v. Cunningham, 30 F.3d 879, 883 (7th Cir. 1994). Accordingly, the Court must determine whether the undisputed facts in this case show that summary judgment is proper as a matter of law. LaSalle Bank, 54 F.3d at 392.

The following facts are undisputed. Defendant is a sergeant for the Illinois State Police who works for the Division of Forensic Services. On November 7, 2007, he attended a hearing in Wheaton, Illinois, and he was driving himself and two other men back from the hearing. The passengers were Captain Randy Pollard, a jail administrator for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, and Jesse Garcia, a correctional officer. Defendant was dressed in civilian clothes, which is what he usually wore for his job. Defendant was driving a 2007 Ford Expedition that had state police license plates, but no other exterior markings that indicated it was a state police vehicle. The vehicle also had internal lights including red and blue flashing strobe lights attached to the passenger side sunvisor, strobe lights in the rear of the vehicle, wig-wag headlights, and a spotlight on the driver's side.

On the same day, Plaintiff was driving southbound on Interstate 57. Between 5:30 and 7:00 p.m., Plaintiff and Defendant were driving in close proximity to each other. After observing Plaintiff, Defendant believed that Plaintiff was driving faster than the speed limit, tailgating his vehicle at times, and operating her car in an unsafe and aggressive manner. He decided to stop her and warn her that she was operating her motor vehicle improperly. He did not have the ability to give her a ticket at that time because he did not carry a ticket book.

Defendant signaled Plaintiff to pull over by turning on his vehicle's strobe lights and shining the spotlight into the back of Plaintiff's vehicle. Plaintiff became nervous and called 911 on her cell phone and reported what was happening. She remained connected with the 911 operator throughout most of the incident.

When Plaintiff did not pull over, Defendant passed her vehicle and executed a "rolling stop" or "rolling road block," by driving in front of Plaintiff and slowing down to get Plaintiff to stop. Defendant pulled onto the shoulder of the road and Plaintiff stopped in the right lane of traffic. Defendant then got out of his vehicle and told Plaintiff to pull off the road. She was still talking to the 911 operator and did not comply. He also told Plaintiff several times to provide her driver's license. Plaintiff did not comply. At more or less the same time, Plaintiff told the 911 operator that the vehicle that stopped her had Illinois State Police license plates and she told the operator the plate number. The operator told Plaintiff to ask Defendant to identify himself. In the midst of yelling at Plaintiff to provide her license and roll down her window, Defendant told Plaintiff he was a State Police officer and held his badge against her car window, which she had not yet rolled down. Eventually, Plaintiff gave Defendant her cell phone and her license. Plaintiff states that Defendant was very loud, angry, and rude to her and that she became hysterical.

Defendant took Plaintiff's license to his vehicle to perform a driver's license check. Shortly thereafter, additional officers arrived and spoke with Plaintiff and Defendant. Plaintiff and Defendant had no ...


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